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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Monday, February 11, 2019
Sara Ioannides, conductor. Sara Davis Buechner, piano

Conductor Sarah Ioannides

MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019

The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concert, the third in the set, is reviewed here.

Conductor Sarah Ioannides proved throughout the evening to have a firm control of the music and the wonderful SRS players, but offered no particular interpretative revelations during the 89 minutes of music. Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s C Major Overture opened the program and passed without much notice, despite lovely string ensemble playing, Meredith Brown’s horn solo and musical references to Von Weber’s overtures.

Clara Schumann’s A Minor Concerto, Op. 7, completed the first half with pianist Sara Davis Buechner as piano soloist. This is a difficult work to sound convincing in a modern concert hall, as the themes are conventional and the harmonic progressions seem aimless. The 1833 work begins with dramatic octaves crashing down (as in Robert Schumann’s A Minor Concerto from 1845) but much of the passagework, runs and arpeggios don’t lie easily for the soloist’s technique. Ms. Ioannides kept the sonic balances in check, and deferred to Ms. Buechner in the big thematic statements in the allegro maestoso and in the stirring romanze with the fetching duo of the pianist and cellist Adelle-Akiko Kearns. This use of a cello solo was unique in concertos of the time, even one that has a strong resemblance to the music of Hummel and Moscheles.

The finale had music and playing of more individuality, and handsome flute solos from Kathleen Lane Reynolds. Ms. Buechner’s playing sounded labored at times, and surprisingly she used score with a page turner, something now never seen with virtuoso pianists in conventional repertoire in an urban hall. Oddly it was Madame Schumann that was one of the first to play concerted works from memory, with this piece 186 years now old.

Readers interested in first rate Clara Schumann music might consult her Piano Trio and the heart-on-sleeve Romance from the Op. 22 Suite, the latter played in Weill Feb. 8 by violinist Joshua Bell and Pianist Sam Haywood.

Following intermission Robert Schumann’s dramatic and dark-hued E-Flat Major Overture, Op. 115, was heard. This is echt Schumann with continual reference to the Rhenish (3rd) Symphony, though the charm and sparkling hues of the Rhenish are absent. Ms. Ioannides drew a compelling performance with sterling trumpet duets from Kale Cumings and Scott Macomber. String sound was potent, with the usual SRS sitting of second violins stage left giving sectional differentiation.

The evening’s finest music came with Mendelssohn’s E-Flat Major Symphony (Op. 56, “Scottish”), a work the conductor fashioned with energy and elegant phrasing. After a solemn introduction things became impassioned (at allegro un poco) with a juxtaposition of orchestral light and mystery, but always a dense sound that this listener (in the balcony) found compelling. There was continual timpani artistry of Andrew Lewis. The composer omitted trombones but the Symphony’s seven basses and five horns gave strong thematic underpinning through the 41-minute work. Wind playing in the adagio had lovely small touches, with Ms. Lane, clarinetist Roy Zajac and oboist Laura Reynolds in lovely trios and duos.

Ms. Ioannides drove the concluding fiercely energetic allegro maestoso assai to a potent conclusion, beginning early in the movement to build the momentum, albeit with small songful pianissimo sections that slowed at times but never diminished the drama.

A standing ovation from most of the 850 in Weill seemingly compelled the conductor to recognize many of the Symphony’s musicians, and additional applause.

Virginia Eskin and Daniel Glover contributed to this review.